Saul & Ruby’s Holocaust Survivor Band (aka Saul & Ruby, To Life!)
Saul & Ruby’s Holocaust Survivor Band
Saul (94, drummer) and Ruby (90, accordion), are both Holocaust survivors and musicians with an insatiable lust for life. When we started filming them four years ago they had just formed The Holocaust Survivor Band, the first of its kind. Their dream was to one day perform their music in Poland, their homeland where they endured unimaginable trauma. Their mission then, and now, is to spread a message of world peace at a time when anti-Semitism and prejudice are growing throughout the world. Through the sharing of their music and stories, they have learned that they are also healing their own wounds while revealing their resilience.
SAUL & RUBY’S HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR BAND, is a feature documentary (80 min.) directed and produced by Tod Lending, an Oscar nominated and national Emmy winning documentary filmmaker. It is a story full of comedy and tragedy as it follows the inspiring story of these two unique and unusual men. Their musical journey begins in total obscurity, playing in residential homes for the elderly and small Jewish community organizations, to then being invited to perform at venues across the country, including a coveted performance at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage.
Eventually, they make an extraordinarily emotional journey to Poland where they relive the joys of their youth and the ensuing horrors of Nazi occupied Poland. They play a dream concert before a cheering crowd of two thousand Poles of all ages, including a group of non-Jewish Poles who provided a safe haven for Jews during the war. The story ends with a very emotional scene of them playing their instruments defiantly and triumphantly on the train tracks of Auschwitz. In voice-over, Saul warns us that the racism and anti-Semitism of today must be stopped.
During the four years we filmed we witnessed the remarkable resilience of Saul and Ruby as they both lost their wives to chronic illnesses (they died within 11 days of each other). Though devastated, they continued to pursue their ambitions while mourning their painful losses.
This unique and compelling story is about having the courage to live one’s dreams, finding purpose and meaning in life, the transcendent power of music, the complex experience of aging, surviving trauma, the power of love and family, and speaking out against anti-Semitism and bigotry. We are with Saul and Ruby every step of the way as they find joy, healing and comfort through music while confronting the past, and boldly facing the mortality of their existence today.